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McNeil v. Wisconsin (90-5319), 501 U.S. 171 (1991)
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Syllabus

NOTE: Where it is feasible, a syllabus (headnote) will be released, as is being done in connection with this case, at the time the opinion is issued. The syllabus constitutes no part of the opinion of the Court but has been prepared by the Reporter of Decisions for the convenience of the reader. See United States v. Detroit Lumber Co., 200 U.S. 321, 337.

Syllabus

McNEIL v. WISCONSIN

certiorari to the supreme court of wisconsin

No. 90-5319. Argued February 25, 1991 — Decided June 13, 1991

Charged with an armed robbery in West Allis, Wisconsin, petitioner McNeil was represented by a public defender at a bail hearing. While in jail on that charge, he was questioned by police about a murder and related crimes in Caledonia, Wisconsin. He was advised of his Miranda rights, signed forms waiving them, and made statements incriminating himself in the Caledonia offenses. He was then formally charged with the latter crimes, his pretrial motion to suppress his statements was denied, and he was convicted. His conviction was affirmed on appeal, the State Supreme Court holding that an accused's request for counsel at an initial appearance on a charged offense does not constitute an invocation of his Fifth Amendment right to counsel that precludes police interrogation on unrelated, uncharged offenses.

Held: An accused's invocation of his Sixth Amendment right to counsel during a judicial proceeding does not constitute an invocation of the right to counsel derived by Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, from the Fifth Amendment's guarantee against compelled self-incrimination. Pp. 3-10.

(a) The identity between the two rights that McNeil asserts is false as a matter of fact. The Sixth Amendment right, which does not attach until the initiation of adversary judicial proceedings, is offense-specific, Maine v. Moulton, 474 U.S. 159, 179-180 and n. 16, as is its effect, under Michigan v. Jackson, 475 U.S. 625, of invalidating subsequent waivers during police-initiated questioning. Thus McNeil's invocation of that right with respect to the West Allis robbery poses no bar to the admission of his statements regarding the Caledonia crimes, with which he had not been charged at the time he made the statements. Moreover, although the Miranda right to counsel is non-offense-specific, Arizona v. Roberson, 486 U.S. 675, and, once asserted, prevents any further police-initiated interrogation outside the presence of counsel, Edwards v. Arizona, 451 U.S. 477, 484-485, its assertion cannot be inferred from the invocation of the Sixth Amendment right in light of the differing purposes and effects of the two rights. The Sixth Amendment right is intended to protect the unaided layman at critical confrontations with the government after the initiation of the adversary process with respect to a particular crime, United States v. Gouveia, 467 U.S. 180, 189. The Miranda-Edwards guarantee is intended to protect the suspect's "desire to deal with the police only through counsel," Edwards, supra, at 484. Requesting the assistance of an attorney at a bail hearing does not satisfy the minimum requirement of some statement that can reasonably be construed as an expression of a desire for counsel in dealing with custodial interrogation by the police. Pp. 3-8.

(b) Nor will this Court declare as a matter of sound policy (assuming the existence of such expansive power) that assertion of the Sixth Amendment right implies invocation of the Miranda right. McNeil's proposed rule offers only insignificant advantages, and would seriously impede effective law enforcement by precluding uncounseled but uncoerced admissions of guilt pursuant to valid Miranda waivers. Pp. 8-10.

155 Wis. 2d 24, 454 N. W. 2d 742, affirmed.

Scalia, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Rehnquist, C. J., and White, O'Connor, Kennedy, and Souter, JJ., joined. Kennedy, J., filed a concurring opinion. Stevens, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which Marshall and Blackmun, JJ., joined.